Charles John Wilber 1919-2013
Charlie Wilber, 93, of Miller, S.D., died Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 at the Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital in Miller.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 22, at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Miller, with Father Chester Murtha, celebrant. Burial will follow in St. Ann’s Cemetery, Miller with military honors. Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21, with a 5 p.m. rosary and 7 p.m. prayer service, all at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Miller.
Charles John Wilber was born in rural Brookings County on October 25, 1919, to Arthur and Mary (Maher) Wilber, the sixth of ten children. He was educated in the Brookings public schools and graduated from Brookings High School in 1937. He received his bachelor of science degree from South Dakota State University on June 6, 1943.
He attended Infantry Officers’ Candidate School at Ft. Benning, GA., and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army on December 13, 1943. He was promoted to First Lieutenant and served as a World War II combat infantry officer, commanding combat troops in Europe in 1944 and 1945. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart (for having been wounded on two occasions) and the Silver Star, the third highest valor citation awarded by the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged in 1946.
Charlie was married to Genevieve Volek on July 21, 1946, in Faulkton, S.D. They made their home in Miller, where Charlie taught agriculture at Miller High School for four years. In 1950, Charlie started Wilber’s Feed and Seed in a small, rented one-room building, which he built into a substantial regional business, specializing in grass seed.
Like many in his generation, Charlie had a strong sense of duty—to his country, his family, his customers, and his community. When his beloved mother became ill with cancer, it was the teenaged Charlie who devised the piping system that brought water into their farm house to make things easier for her. When he saw a promising teenage boy having some tough times, it was Charlie who took him under his wing, to support and guide him. When he saw a need in his home town, it was Charlie, as a member of the Miller City Council, who spearheaded the improvement project which turned Miller’s streets from dusty thoroughfares into paved streets with curb and gutter.
Charlie was a devout Roman Catholic, a man of profound and compassionate faith, who put that faith into action. Whether it was a local family in need of financial assistance, or the overseas missions with which he was in regular correspondence, he truly spent himself for others.
Charlie had a lifelong love of sports. The Wilber family basically set up camp in the bleachers, and their family vacations virtually consisted of travelling to ball games, tournaments and track meets. Charlie and Gen were excellent dancers, and really enjoyed reliving their college romance on the dance floor. They felt blessed to have raised their family, built their business, and lived their lives among their many treasured friends in Miller.
In his later years, he was a wonderful example of how to grow old gracefully, “in wisdom and in truth.” He never lost his sense of humor, was very easy to care for, and allowed his gentleness and warmth to shine through.
Blessed to have shared his life are his children, James (Dawn) Wilber, Dell Rapids, John (Deanna) Wilber, Sioux Falls, Susan (Rory) King, Aberdeen, Jeffrey (Rhonda) Wilber, Sioux Falls, Kathy (Dr. Larry) Nickelson, Miller, and Robert (Barbara) Wilber, Sioux Falls; twenty grandchildren, Chad (Kristine) Wilber, Chicago Ill., Natalie (Collin) Story, Dell Rapids, Matthew (Lindsay) Wilber, Sioux Falls, Rachel (Craig) Boyens, Sioux Falls, Tiffany (Bruce) Hartman, Sioux Falls, Geoffrey (Macee) Wilber, Elm Grove, Wis., Tammy (Matthew) Burkhart, Sioux Falls, Katherine (Zachary) Peterson, Aberdeen, Alexander King, and his fiancé, Natalie Braun, Aberdeen, Patrick (Stacey) King, Aberdeen, Caroline (Dr. Mark) Bain, Aberdeen, Madeline King and Dominic King, Aberdeen, Ashlee Wilber and Lucas Wilber, Sioux Falls, Aubrey (Nathan) Lafleur, Sioux Falls, Jacqueline Wilber, Sioux Falls, Amy (Joseph) Eckert, Sioux Falls, Holli Wilber, Minneapolis, Minn., and Zachary Wilber, Sioux Falls; 27 great-grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and eight step-great-grandchildren; his sisters Grace Tangen, Brookings, and Florence Kirby, Los Angeles Calif.
He was preceded in death by his wife; by his parents; and by four sisters and three brothers.
Casketbearers will be his grandsons Chad Wilber, Matthew Wilber, Geoffrey Wilber, Alexander King, Patrick King, Dominic King, Lucas Wilber and Zachary Wilber. Honorary casketbearers will be former employees of Wilber’s Feed and Seed Inc. and former students of Miller High School.
Memorials may be directed to the VFW-American Legion, 211 West 7th Street, Miller, SD 57362. Donations will be used for young Hand County veterans returning from service, who may have financial need.
Reck Funeral Home of Miller has been entrusted with Charlie’s arrangements. Visit www.familyfuneralhome.net.